“Let’s go,” two words uttered by Steven Gerrard during his unveiling back in April that set the pulses of the Rangers supporters racing. On the face of it, Gerrard was just an untried youth coach coming to take the job that over the last few years had become something of a poisoned chalice. But right from the word go, he’s looked as if he understands what he’s taken on and the sheer size of the expectation levels he has been working under – something that the likes of Mark Warburton before him failed to get his head around.
Enough of the revisionism, though, Gerrard has walked into the building, and despite being a rookie in managerial terms, he looks like he was born to do this job. Credit to him for having the savvy to surround himself with guys like Michael Beale, Gary McAlister and Tom Culshaw – the foursome seems to work well with each one of them bringing something different to the party. Before talking about signings and how the squad has improved over the summer, it’s important to talk about the fans.
This is a group of people who now enjoy going to watch their team again. They have hope, belief and pride in the team at the moment; most know this group of players aren’t a collection of world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, but they would give 100% every single minute of every game and give the fans a performance that their backing deserves. Now the Light Blue legions are happy, they can walk about with a smile on their face, and most, if not all are buzzing for every game to come. It’s been a long time since that was the case!
Moving on to some of the signings, he has addressed the most significant problem from last season: the defence. The Allan McGregor, Nikola Katic, Connor Goldson triangle has worked immediately. Katic and Goldson are everything you thought Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso should and could have been: a commanding presence. That is the foundation of Gerrard’s good start. He has transformed the spine of the side. Too often Rangers would be easily bullied in the last few years, but with those three, Scott Arfield and the man mountain that is Lassana Coulibaly, it’s not going to be easy for the opposition to do that this term.
A lot has been made of Celtic’s start to the season, which is something else that has pleased the Rangers fans. However, Gerrard to this point is undefeated in nine matches, 180 minutes away from taking the club to the Europa League group stages and as I have alluded to before, given the fans something to get behind. Probably more important than that, he’s serving up a Rangers team, that looks like a proper Rangers team.
The swagger is back at Ibrox right now. How long will it last? I have no idea, but the early signs are very encouraging, and if the momentum keeps up, Gerrard may be the man to get Rangers challenging for honours on a regular basis once again. But so far, he’s making this managerial lark look like child’s play.
Given the start Celtic has had, there is every reason to be optimistic that this is the season they finally have a fall. Hopefully, this Rangers team under Gerrard is good enough to take advantage. Don’t yet count out this Gerrard team from winning the Premiership.
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